As the rest of the world industrializes — particularly the world’s two most populous nations — the global economic and cultural center of gravity will continue to shift. We spend so much time fretting in the West about Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, but (to read the news anyway) we are largely ignorant of Tencent, Alibaba, Jingdong, or Baidu, all of which are top 10 tech companies, some larger than those others. There are Chinese versions Twitter, Pinterest, and Artstation, to name a few, all of which do or likely will have more users than their Western counterparts.
Because of the legacies of European imperialism, many Asian people have at least a passing familiarity with popular Western myths and symbols. The reverse is not the case. The characters and stories represented in much contemporary Asian art is not immediately recognizable to us. One wonders if that will change. The surging popularity of Japanese anime and Korean pop music suggests it’s possible.
Zhang Xi is an artist for Tencent, the Chinese tech giant. His stunning paintings depict both original creations and characters from myth and novel.